Ag-gag bills: criminalizing whistle-blowing on factory farms

by *CA* Flickr Creative Commons

by *CA* Flickr Creative Commons

From my column in Communities @ Washington Times

WASHINGTON, DC, April 2, 2013- A number of recent polls show that a majority of Americans think that animals raised for food deserve some level of protection from harm and exploitation.   Even self- described “meat-eating conservative Republican” Mary Matalin has sided with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to fight against so-called “ag-gag” bills.

(Matalin has gone as far as filming a new ad for PETA, and the unusual alliance has apparently already paid off: Arkansas lawmakers have just abandoned a proposed “ag-gag” bill.)

“Ag-gag” bills are laws that criminalize whistleblowing on factory farms.  Even though ag-gag bills differ from state to state, they share a few common elements including criminalizing the taking of pictures or video at a factory farms without authorization, banning investigators from taking jobs at factory farms, and compelling mandatory reporting within short timelines that would make it impossible to establish punishable patterns of abuse.

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